Making Sense of our Craft

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With recent events being as horrific as they are it makes me ponder what I am doing enjoying the activity that gives me the most pleasure at this point in my life; photography.  Can we, or better said, should we be doing things as trivial as capturing the light, and spending hours studying the best way to show and process that capture to best convey our intent?  Certainly if you are a journalistic photographer and your intent is to show reality, you might feel purpose in conveying the horror and ugliness you see unfolding before your lens, but if you love landscape, wildlife, macro, travel, architectural, and many other forms of photography, where does today’s world events leave you?  My favorite form of photography is landscape followed closely by travel, and in both cases my intent is usually to convey the awesome beauty, majesty, and mystery of the world.

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When I see a great scene outdoors and raise my camera up, I hope to freeze time and take home a little of what I feel at the moment.  When I get home and sit down to process that image memories flood back in.  I am there.  I feel the same thing again, and I try to make it come through as best I can.  How is it possible to stand there looking at the sun set over a harbor today and not feel something for those who will never see another sunset?  My only explanation to myself is to borrow Dewitt Jones’s byline, “Celebrate What is Right in the World.”  Thats all we can do.  There is still a lot that is right.  Sunsets still are things of beauty, and beauty is real.  If we stop celebrating that we lose our humanity.

Photoclub Week

As President of our local Kingwood Photoclub the week of our monthly meetings is a busy one.  I love the job, don’t get me wrong, but for an “old” retired guy, this is work!

As an aside, before I get into my week, I read a recent article extolling the virtues of a “large” club in New York.  There were two things that struck me about this article.  First and foremost was a paragraph describing the club’s success, “It’s likely that the Huntington Camera Club exemplifies the best that camera clubs can achieve: active and vital participation by members; an eye on the next generation of image makers; and visibility and service within the community.”  That statement exemplifies what I’d like our club to become.  The second thing that struck me about the article was the size of that “large” club. “The Huntington Camera Club is the largest on Long Island, with 120 members“.  Our little local club has over 90 members and over 140 on our mailing list.  The point is we are “large enough” to also be a factor in the community, just like the club in the article.

Enough of that, now you know what motivates me.

My week starts a week before the meeting with reminders and notices going out to the members about the meeting.  As it seems we always have last minute issues with speakers and programs.  Members submit their images monthly along the lines of the themes for that month.  This last month was a double theme of either/or Macro photography or Roadways and Byways.  I am always quite pleased to see the images roll in for this Share and Learn activity.  Our members are creative and many, quite good.  Its always somewhat humbling to see their material, when I think in my own head (I’m sure we all do this, no?)…this month my stuff is really good, its going to blow the socks off everyone.  Then I see their stuff…darn.  Oh well, that’s why I joined this club, to learn and not become to enamored with my own stuff.

As the weekend rolls around before the meeting on Tuesday I’m receiving member images, and organizing them.  I’m also going through notes I keep all month on potential items I want to bring up at the meeting.  I also keep a list of potential Share and Learn challenges (assignments) for the next month.  I get my ideas from other members as well as just browsing the internet.  With these notes and ideas I begin building my “agenda” for the meeting.

I actually write out an agenda and prepare a slide, or set of slides.  It keeps me organized.  That agenda is finalized on Monday before the meeting, as is all the organization of images.  Tuesday during the day is sacrosanct for for me.  Its the day I spend playing golf with my men’s golf group.  After the golf, I typically get back and make sure I’m ready for the meeting, and if I have time, go to the gym to blow off any steam…I tend to get wound up.

The meetings are always fun for me.  My personality type (Myers Briggs) is a strong “Introvert”, so it is a lot of work.  I don’t take to large groups of people easily, but its also a therapeutic challenge.  It forces me out of myself, and I love the group.

After the meeting I try to unwind, since, if I don’t, I won’t sleep that night.  Unfortunately I’m not always successful.  I usually come home and immediately begin working on putting out that month’s “newsletter”.  Putting out that newsletter is not really a simple matter as there are several things that have to happen concurrently for it to work successfully.  Our web site (kwphotoclub.com), needs to be fully updated.  Our images need to be uploaded and linked back to the website.  The next month’s scheduled events, as far as they’ve been confirmed, need to be set up in Eventbrite, and linked back to the site. Then, finally the newsletter is written…linked with the site, images, and events, and sent out.

After all that, its not time to relax, as we scheduled our monthly Post Processing Special Interest group on the same week as the monthly meeting, for the convenience of members attending, but not for the convenience of the person leading that group, me.  Another prep cycle then starts for the SIG meeting, but that’s another story.